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Gov’t hasn’t decided to force utility bills on students – Ablakwa

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A Deputy Minister of Education in charge of tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah has rejected claims that government will make students of tertiary institutions pay their own utility bills. Mr Ablakwa disclosed this in an interview with Citi News on the sidelines of the Campus Connect program in Accra on Wednesday.
The Deputy Minister called for calm at the various tertiary institutions saying government is yet to take a decision on the matter based on the UPSA declaration. The UPSA declaration provided a roadmap for cost sharing between the government and tertiary institutions for the payment of utility bills.
The declaration also sought to make students in tertiary institutions pay utility fees. University students across the country are up in arms against government over a decision to make them pay their utility bills.
Mr Ablakwa maintained that “the UPSA declaration remains the recommendation from stakeholders. As it is now those are recommendations. Government is yet to consider those recommendations contained in the UPSA declaration. The status quo remains. It is important that all our stakeholders remain calm until such a time that Government considers the recommendation that have come from the UPSA dialogue on utilities. Cabinet is yet to consider the UPSA declaration so there is no basis of agitation at this point.”

WHEN WILL THE UPSA DECLARATION BE IMPLEMENTED?

Answering a question on when the recommendations will be implemented the Deputy Minister of Education called for patience since the report is yet to be taken to cabinet for deliberations. He further explained that “for now everything is possible, because the ministry of Education does not control the Government`s timetable. We do not know if when the report and the declaration will be tabled at cabinet for consideration. And what will be the outcome. So there is no need for anybody to rush to any conclusion at this time point in time. We need to wait for Governments position.”

THE UPSA DECLARATION

Representatives of major stakeholders in tertiary education in Ghana, suppliers of public utilities and allied institutions met at the auditorium of the University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA), at the instance of the Ministry of Education, on 25th March, 2015 to: • Discuss strategies for sustainable consumption of utilities in tertiary education institutions; • Craft innovative alternative means of providing utilities in tertiary education institutions; and • Make recommendations to inform Government policy regarding the utilization of utilities in tertiary education institutions.

PARTICIPANTS

The stakeholders who participated in the meeting were the National Council for Tertiary Education, the Vice-Chancellors Ghana, the Committee of Polytechnic Rectors, the Conference of Principals of Colleges of Education, the National Accreditation Board, the University Teachers Association of Ghana, Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana, the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Students Association of Ghana, the National Union of Ghana Students, the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students, the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition, the Ghana Education Service, the Council for Vocational and Technical Education, the Electricity Company of Ghana, the Energy Commission, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the Ghana National Association of Teachers, the Concerned Teachers Association of Ghana and Controller, and Accountant General’s Department .

OBSERVATIONS

Stakeholders assessed different perspectives on utilization and management of utilities in tertiary education institutions and observed that:
  1. Different electrical appliances used by students in tertiary education institutions and the manner by which these appliances are used contribute to wastage in the use of electricity in tertiary education institutions.
  2. There is need to reduce wastage in the use of utilities and ensure sustainable use of water and electricity in public tertiary education institution.
  3. Electricity and water are used in academic, administrative, health, commercialized and residential facilities in tertiary education institutions. Thus, there is the need for the application of a metering system that differentiates the various users of utilities, to make users of utilities in residential facilities responsible for the payment of tariffs charged on the use of utilities.
  4. Energy Commission’s recommended standards on electrical appliances have not been applied and enforced in tertiary education institutions to foster the conservation of electricity.
  5. In spite of the rapidly increasing cost of utilities in tertiary education institutions resulting from expansion in enrollments and consequently the growth in the volume of activities performed by public tertiary education institutions. The Government of Ghana has been solely responsible for the payment of tariffs on utilities in public tertiary education institutions. Government’s sole responsibility for the payment of the cost of utilities used in tertiary education institutions is not sustainable.
  6. Alternative sources of water and electricity such as rain and underground water, as well as bio-gas and solar energy have not been exploited to supplement traditional sources of supply of water and electricity.
  7. Modern technologies in lighting and management of electricity and water have not been applied extensively to reduce the consumption of utilities in tertiary education institutions. Such technologies may include the LED lamps and motion sensors.
  8. There is limited research on alternative sources of supply of electricity and water in public tertiary education institutions.
  9. Students and staff have not been educated adequately on the efficient use of utilities.
  10. Generally, policies and regulations on the use of utilities are lacking in public tertiary education institutions.

DECLARATION

In view of the foregoing, we afore-named stakeholders in public tertiary education in Ghana jointly declare that:

COST SHARING

  1. The cost of utilities in public tertiary education institutions should be shared between the Government , tertiary education institutions , staff , students as follows
  2. Government: Government should bear the cost of utilities supplied to academic, (teaching and learning, research and facilities) health and administrative facilities in public tertiary education institutions.
  3. Students: Students on campus should bear the cost of utilities in students’ residential facilities especially as more than 70% of students currently live in private hostels off campus and pay for their utilities thus creating an unfair arrangement where Government subsidies benefit only the 30% minority.
  4. Tertiary Education Institutions: Tertiary education institutions should pay the cost of utilities supplied to commercialised units such as guest houses, restaurants, printing presses and commercial agricultural products processing units and etc.
  5. Staff: Staff occupying residential facilities owned by public tertiary education institutions should continue to bear the cost of utilities supplied to those facilities.
In view of the above, different metering systems should be applied to segregate different users of utilities in tertiary education institutions.

EXPLOITATION OF ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY

  1. Tertiary education institutions should contribute to finding solutions to the endemic water and electricity supply challenges facing the nation by devoting part of their resources to research and development in alternative sources of electricity and water supply.
  2. Alternative sources of water and electricity such as rain and underground water, bio-gas and solar energy should be exploited to supplement traditional sources of supply of water and electricity in tertiary education institutions.

MANAGEMENT OF UTILITIES

  1. Modern technologies in lighting and management of electricity and water should be adopted to improve the efficiency with which utilities are utilized in tertiary education institutions.
  2. Policies and regulations on the use of utilities should be developed to guide the use of utilities in tertiary education institutions.
  3. Task forces should be set up in tertiary education institutions to educate students and staff on efficient use of utilities and enforce policies and regulations on the use of utilities.
  4. Energy Commission’s recommendations on standards on electrical appliances should be adopted and enforced in tertiary education institutions to foster the conservation of electricity.
Source: www.citifmonline.com

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